Stripe is a popular online payment solution, but it’s not the only option for accepting cards online. It’s also not usually the lowest cost.
There are plenty of Stripe competitors that offer similar services. The trick for finding the right alternative to Stripe is to know exactly what it is about Stripe that you like and what you don’t like. In this article, we’ll look at when to use Stripe, and when to consider a company like Stripe instead.
- Online Payment Terms
- Should I use Stripe?
- Stripe Competitors
- Top Stripe Alternatives
- Stripe Connect and Alternatives
- Other Payment Gateways
Online Payments Terms
A few terms will come up a lot in this article. Those include:
- Payment gateway or gateway: The “credit card machine” of the internet.
In order to accept credit cards online, you need a payment gateway that connects your website to a credit card processor. The term “payment gateway” is often shortened to simply “gateway.”
- Credit card processor: A company that handles your credit and debit card transactions.
To take credit cards, you need a credit card processor. These companies are different than the credit card brands (like Visa and Mastercard.)
- Enhanced data (also called level 2 or level 3 data): Information provided with a commercial credit card transaction that isn’t required for consumer credit card transactions.
Providing enhanced data can save you money on commercial card processing fees, so it’s very important for B2B companies to understand what it is and how payment gateways play a role. For businesses that sell direct to consumers, it’s not necessary to worry about level 2 or level 3 data.
Should I Use Stripe?
Whether Stripe is right for you depends on several factors. As rough rules of thumb, Stripe is likely a good fit if:
- You’re a developer that wants comprehensive documentation
- You don’t anticipate switching processors or don’t mind programming for a new gateway if you do switch
- Simple monthly billing statements are a high priority, even if processing the transactions costs more
Use a Stripe alternative if:
- Low cost processing is a high priority
- You want the flexibility to switch processors in the future but keep the same gateway
- Phone support is important to you
Of course, these are just some of the reasons that may apply. You’ll need to consider your specific business needs, budget, and goals. If it looks like it’s not the best fit for your business, here are some Stripe competitors to choose from.
The payment industry is full of companies like Stripe, all offering easy ways to accept payments online. Stripe offers two basic “types” of online processing. The main Stripe payment gateway helps you accept online payments in a traditional buyer/seller model. Stripe Connect allows you to take payments using “platform” or “marketplace” style processing, where you connect multiple buyers and sellers.
There’s no shortage of choices when it comes to traditional online payments, but fewer companies support platform style processing. Still, there are alternatives to Stripe for both. Additionally, there are some things that Stripe can’t do (like provide enhanced data, also called level 2 and level 3) so it’s important to know the best alternatives for those situations.
Lastly, Stripe is not known for strong phone support. The company typically prefers clients to use email or check its help center for assistance. Other gateways (and payment processors) do offer phone support. If that’s important to you, it’s a good idea to consider choosing one of the Stripe competitors.
Top Stripe Alternatives
There are multiple options when it comes to alternatives to Stripe. Here are some of the top ones, based on factors such as similar features and broad compatibility with processors.
- Heartland for Platforms
In online payment processing, Authorize.Net is the 800-pound gorilla. It’s one of the oldest and most established payment gateways, and the majority of processing companies offer it. Since it provides many of the same features as Stripe, including the option to accept payments on a recurring basis, it’s a great alternative to Stripe payments.
How is Authorize.Net like Stripe?
Authorize.Net and Stripe are similar in that they both offer a payment gateway and provide the credit card processing. With that type of setup, the company controls every aspect of your pricing. You’ll also only work with that company for customer support.
Both companies give you the option to accept one-time payments or set up clients for recurring billing. Transactions are secure and your customers will enjoy an easy checkout process.
How is Authorize.Net different than Stripe?
While you can use Authorize.Net for both the gateway and the payments processing, Authorize allows its gateway to be used with other credit card processors. Stripe does not. That means that if you want to use Stripe’s payment gateway, you have to use Stripe as your credit card processor.
With Authorize.Net, you can use the Authorize payment gateway but choose your processor. And since virtually all processors support Authorize.Net, that opens up your options for finding a low cost processor that meets your needs. When you have the ability to choose between multiple processors, you have more competitive leverage to negotiate lower pricing.
Note that Stripe does say that it will negotiate pricing with higher volume businesses. However, you’re often able to get lower pricing at lower volumes when you use Authorize.Net as your gateway with an independent processing company. If your average monthly volumes aren’t high enough to get lower pricing negotiated with Stripe, it may be worth checking pricing with competitors.
Particularly beneficial for B2B companies, CardPointe is a payment gateway that helps streamline the process of providing level 2 and level 3 data for commercial card transactions. Stripe does not support level 2 and level 3 at this time.
If you’re a business that accepts a lot of corporate credit cards or government cards, providing enhanced data can save you a lot of money on your processing fees. In other words, you’ll want to choose a Stripe alternative if you accept a lot of corporate cards and want to pay as little as possible to do so. While Stripe’s pricing looks simpler, it’s ultimately more expensive than properly optimized enhanced data rates.
Like Authorize.Net, the CardPointe gateway is not limited to one processor. However, CardPointe does require a merchant account with a credit card processor that is compatible with Fiserv (formerly First Data.) There are lots of companies that fit the bill, though, so you still have plenty of options for utilizing the CardPointe gateway with a competitively priced processor.
Enhanced data is an important enough topic that I’ve written separate articles about it. Check them out here: B2B Transactions: Level 2 and Level 3 Credit Card Processing and here: Understanding Level III Credit Card Processing and remember that Stripe is not a good option for B2B companies.
Another “universal” gateway, ePN does it all: one-time transactions, recurring billing, enhanced data processing for commercial transactions, invoice payments, and QuickBooks integration. Even better, ePN has several choices for online payments to match your needs. There’s an easy form builder for a simple checkout page, shopping cart integration, or the option to add “buy” buttons to your existing website.
Unlike Stripe, ePN does not offer credit card processing directly. The company solely provides the gateway. You will need a credit card processing company in order to use the ePN gateway. Fortunately, many processors support ePN, allowing you flexibility to choose the right option for your needs and budget.
Yet another gateway that works with multiple processors (noticing a trend?), USAePay competes with Stripe for traditional online payment acceptance. Like Stripe, it allows you to take one-time or recurring payments, set up fraud protection to minimize risk of fraudulent transactions, and integrates with shopping carts.
Unlike Stripe, the USAePay gateway can be used with many different processors. Once again, that increases your leverage for negotiating costs. It also means that if you want to switch processors in the future, you won’t need to switch gateways.
You’ve probably noticed that all of the Stripe alternatives we’ve listed so far are universal or allow a broad range of processors. At CardFellow, we firmly believe that it’s best to minimize disruptions to your business whenever possible. Utilizing a universal gateway is one such way to minimize disruption. It’s far easier to switch processors with a universal gateway than it is to reprogram your entire website for a new gateway if you want to switch from a proprietary gateway like Stripe’s.
Stripe Connect and Alternatives
If you run a marketplace where you’re connecting a buyer and seller and facilitating the transaction for them (think Etsy), you need specialty processing, called “marketplace” or “platform” style processing. That’s what Stripe Connect provides.
Platform style processing is less common, and fewer companies offer it. So, Stripe Connect can be a great choice for new platforms / marketplaces, or for companies that want to get set up quickly.
However, Stripe Connect isn’t cheap. For larger businesses, it may make financial sense to consider a solution like Heartland for Platforms, which offers cost effective interchange plus pricing while still providing you with a secure platform-style payment solution.
Heartland for Platforms
***Note: At the time of this update, we are not able to locate information about Heartland for Platforms on the company’s site and are confirming if that service is still available. For now, we’re leaving the below information, but note that it may not be accurate until we can confirm.
Platform-style payment processing is one area where there are fewer Stripe competitors. However, a big one, Heartland for Platforms, offers some distinct advantages. For one thing, Heartland uses competitive interchange plus pricing. While interchange plus doesn’t guarantee the lowest cost, it does set the stage for it.
Like Stripe Connect, Heartland for Platforms provides assistance with regulations and compliance for marketplace payment processing, including “know your customer” requirements. The two solutions offer a similar service – the ability to set up platform payments while minimizing your liabilities – but Heartland’s solution offers a more transparent pricing model, allowing you to more easily assess whether your pricing is competitive.
Other Payment Gateways
While this is just a selection of some major popular alternatives to Stripe, you have multiple options when it comes to choosing a payment gateway. In general, I suggest using a universal gateway (such as Authorize.Net) whenever possible. Doing so ensures that if you need to switch credit card processors in the future, you won’t need to reprogram your entire site for a new gateway.
You can read about features, limitations, and processor compatibility for a number of options in CardFellow’s payment gateway reviews.
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